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100 years strong for Careys at Hawthorne
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Tim Carey

 

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Published: 3/4/2009 3:59 PM

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From big-name jockeys such as Eddie Arcaro and Bill Shoemaker to thoroughbred stars such as Black Tie Affair and Buck's Boy, many a Who's Who has passed through the gates at historic Hawthorne Race Course over the last century.

But while those names have come and gone, through it all there's been one name that has been a constant at 35th and Laramie - the Carey family.

This year the Carey's will be celebrating their 100th year of stewardship of Hawthorne since Thomas Carey purchased the track from Ed Corrigan in 1909.

The latest Carey to run the show at Hawthorne is Tim (son of Bob Carey), a man who understands completely what's on the line under his stewardship.

"It's full of pressure to think there's a business out there that's been around 100 years and is family-owned and operated," said Carey, who took over the reins at Hawthorne in August 2005. "It really does make you stand back and reflect on my father, my uncle, my grandfather ... just in terms of their hard work and what they've done to ensure that this day would take place.

"It's an awesome responsibility."

Just the fact that Hawthorne survived occasional prohibitions on horse racing, the Great Depression and a fire in 1978 says all you need to know about the Carey family's resolve.

"With that fire, to see what my grandfather, my father and my uncle were going through and the fact they were able to rebuild - their passion was to stay in racing," Carey said. "It would have been very easy to bail at that point in time. That was a critical period."

Carey finds himself at another critical juncture in Hawthorne's history. If the track is to be around another 100 years, Carey says there needs to be a lot of changes in the way the track - and racing itself - does business.

And it comes down to one word.

"Gaming," Carey said. "There's no question in my mind."

Carey's still shaking his head in disbelief that Hawthorne didn't get the state's 10th casino license, which eventually was awarded to Des Plaines.

"It's something that, quite frankly, I'm blown away that we weren't selected," Carey said. "Only because, different from Des Plaines, we could have been up and running in six months. We could've been up and running by August. Who else in this economy is raising their hand and saying I can create 1,200 jobs?

"If we were to have that 10th license, we would be able to showcase horse racing. And you're helping the agribusiness industry, you're creating jobs and you're creating an entertainment destination in an area that needs it."

Hawthorne opens Friday

What: Hawthorne's spring thoroughbred meet (March 6-April 27) kicks off Friday

Where: Hawthorne is located at the corner of 35th and Laramie in Stickney.

Daily post time: 1:25 p.m.

Live racing: Thursdays through Mondays

Parking: General admission (free), Preferred ($3), Valet ($5)

Admission: $3, includes program

More info: (708) 780-3700 or hawthorneracecourse.com